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Peter Berkowitz; Norman Podhoretz; Alfred... Education. (2012) Panel 'Without Anti-Communism What Defines Conservatives Today?'

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  CSPAN    Book TV    Peter Berkowitz; Norman Podhoretz; Alfred...   
   Education.  (2012) Panel 'Without Anti-Communism What Defines...  

    January 2, 2013
    4:10 - 5:14am EST  

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department, it wasn't an issue of people not believing him, but people downplaying the significance of what he said. and, you know, talk about the important news being put in the back pages of the new york times. so it seems like a lot of the time it's not a shoot of belief for disbelief but on how much emphasis we put on various pieces of affirmation or people put. and they talked about people putting a lot of emphasis on a bombing in baghdad and less emphasis on the liberal voice that we might hear in the middle east. the same thing, i think, we are seeing with susan rice in benghazi where people live saying, okay, she might have done it, but it is not important so how do we prioritize information to make sure that we are seeing the world correctly or events in the world correctly? it seems like that is an issue that is relevant then and now.
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>> one piece of good news is that sense september 11th a lot of people have become very, very interested in the middle east, and they never were before. there were forced to become interested in the middle east. not long ago i asked professor lewis was born in 1916, very, very few people in the west when he was. did you ever think that your field would become so important there would be such interest in your field. he said, no, never. and that is good news, that there are lots of people who know about the middle east and lots of different outlets. by the way, this is ilion johnson of national review until university. the research institute that translates materials from the middle east. a group that being said there.
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the shining a light. we don't have to rely now on just a few sources. some journalists have devoted his life to finding out about the middle east. it's all about necessity. we did not support. very few people knew about the middle east. whoever gave a thought to kurds, for example. who. but this is -- as i said, we used to know a heck of a lot about south africa. now that knowledge has faded. and now we are experts or semi experts on the middle east and about what region next. he knows. >> i think, you know, what you're saying, the intimation.
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the first answer to your question is stop reading the new york times. [laughter] much more than it used 210 or even -- >> my commentary. >> there is a sort of classic effort to say what is important and what is unimportant in accordance with an ideological schemes. you know, i don't think there's an answer to this, and it's very hard to get people to jump out of that sort of in the case of the times to liberal left, the view of the world. except over a long amount of time by pointing out to cognitive dissidence and disrupted -- discrepancies. i guess it's easier now in the sense that the state department, i remember work stopped at 630
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to watch cronkite and broke off. their interpretation of the news was critical for the u.s. government. likewise, time and newsweek. i mean, you now have -- pardon me. you now have many more news broadcasts and we have the internet. so if we could just get rid of the new york times, the problem would be about 25 percent salt. i actually am serious about that because of its influence on media elites throughout the country who look at it to determine how to understand the world. >> please join.
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>> so could not help remember someone was talking about the adulation which the world health i don't know if everyone here is aware. in august educational institution not too far from here, a bard college, there is actually in alger humanities. my colleague the founding editor of the new criterion had not heard a great. this new chair in the humanities was announced to promptly given
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back to the president. well, and delighted to welcome you to our final panel commemorating the 60th anniversary of whitaker chambers witness. i think we've saved the most difficult or at least the most contentious question for last. what defines conservatives today? i think in the context of witness and the work of bill buckley today means after the cold war. we've had a little bit about that already this afternoon. i would like to say a little more about it a little more specifically now. so, after the cold war, that means after the implacable confrontation of communism substantiated then by the evil empire of the soviet union and
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the west, in his purgatory letter to his children, which had been mentioned already, chambers said that in communism he saw the concentrated evil of our time. now, he looked with kindred eyes upon the enormity of communism. indeed, conservatives of all stripes could agree about that hideous this of the communist system, which is why the world of the cold war was, in many ways, a tidier, more manichean world than the one that we inhabit. whatever else might be said about it, the soviet union provided a sort of negative rallying point, something that conservatives of all sorts could define themselves against, and i wonder about today, what about today, how do conservatives to find themselves.
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well, that is a question that i hope the panel is going to conjure with. before i turn things over to them, i want to make just briefly to final points. one of which is -- has been raised a couple of times. if conservatives were virtually at one in regarding the freedom biking etiology of parmesan with repugnance, they were not, i believe, quite so unified in understanding communism as did thinkers like chambers in buckley. chambers readily acknowledged the familiar and it commiserating features of communism, the gulag and so on, but like bell he went further. communism, he said, was a vision of man without god. we have had that a couple of times that. i want to emphasize that. that is the core of the phenomenon. it was an aberration of the seductive promise that was made
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in the garden of eden, relinquished god, and follow me, said the serpent, and he shall be as god. that was the heber stick existential catnip that fuelled the deep appeal of communism, and it is and is still recognized, an appeal that survives the demise of the soviet empire. you remember that in god and man at yale, one of the most famous lines there, i believe that the struggle between communism and atheism is the most important in the world, and then this striking, gasol, and that the struggle between individualism and collectivism is the same struggle on a different level. now, exactly how conservatives had dealt and should deal with that survival and the survival is part of what we are charged with discussing on this panel.
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how the conservatives understand themselves today absent that manichean -- that manichean threat. late irving kristol, a friend of many of us here summed up our situation with his customary insight and elegance when he said in an essay written shortly after the collapse of the soviet union that -- and i'm quoting now, there is no after the cold war for me. so far as having ended my cold war, have increased his intensity as sector after sector of american life has been ruthlessly corrupted by the liberal empires. it is a need those, he said, that aims simultaneously at political and social collectivism on the one hand and moral anarchy on the other. it cannot win, but it can make us all losers. still levitate on the meaning of this great contest, we have
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assembled a distinguished panel of chambers intellectual and moral airs. peter berkowitz is the current. senior fellow at the hoover institution, where he chairs the hoover taskforce on national security and law and cochairs the hoover task force on the virtues of a free society. in the past he served as an associate professor at george mason university school of law and an assistant and associate professor at harvard university. he is the author of virtue and the making of modern liberalism and the ethics seven moralist. he holds that j.d. and a ph.d. in political science from this institution, a master's in philosophy from the hebrew university of jerusalem and a d.a. in english literature from swarthmore college. i feel sort of silly introducing these people because everyone
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knows who they are, but still, i have to. serve as the editor in chief of commentary magazine from 1960- 1995, and is their current editor at large. he was awarded the presidential medal of freedom by george w. bush. he served as a senior fellow at the hudson's -- hudson institute and was a senior fellow and is the author of many books and articles, including the bush doctrine, what the president said, and what it means, world war four, the long struggle against islamic fascism, and why are jews liberals, which is a reviewer for the new criterion said should really have been titled, why are jews still liberals. he was a pulitzer prize scholar at columbia university where he earned his bachelor of arts in 1915, and he also holds a bachelor's and master's degree from cambridge university, england, where he was a fulbright scholar and a cut
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fellow. in addition he has a bachelor's degree in hebrew literature from the jewish theological seminary. outfitter gregory is the managing director of a new initiative called the paul revere project, a new communications initiative, and is the chairman of the intercollegiate study of institutes. he was, for many years, the distinguished publisher of the american scholar. he took a -- american spectator, the american spectator. a once more magazine that the breeds new life into. and he is the former president and publisher of gregory publishing, of course, which originally published "witness". mr. gregory seven department of justice during the reagan ministration, deputy assistant attorney general and as administrator of the office of juvenile justice and delinquency prevention. he published many articles in his new book, upstream, the ascendance of american
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conservatism published in 2008. now, has asked to speak first, so i would like to offer him the floor. >> thanks. as was mentioned, i may have found never to set foot on a college campus again after a number of nasty experiences and a number of college campuses, and i now understand why the day of atonement begins for jews with the disavowal of vows that have been broken. i was forced by these persuasive young people to break about, and i will have to seek atonement in due course. in any case, for reasons that will become clear in a moment, it is from the perspective of neoconservatism the want to talk about conservatism without anti
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communism. now, as one of the godfathers along with irving kristol, i have been a kneele conservative for so long that i should probably be called the paleo-indian conservative. [laughter] as indicated, i am the other neo conservative intellectual of the first generation or knew to conservatism. having begun our political lives somewhere on the left. this then links us more closely to whitaker chambers than to bill buckley who was, of course, to the manor born. but there was another and even stronger link to whitaker chambers in the force that drove most of us out of the left and then to the right. that force was anti-communist and. be sure, my chambers, none of us had been a stalinist, let alone a soviet agent. you had once been trotskyism, if you had been liberals, and if you, myself and my sense
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included, had been associated with the new left. nevertheless, we were all scarcely less passionate and our anti communism bedchambers himself. we to saw communism has an absolute evil, fully comparable to nazism, but even more dangerous because of its far greater appeal to many more people than nazism had ever exerted. accordingly, we felt and took upon ourselves a moral obligation to fight with all our intellectual might against communism for the world of ideas and against its men detested spread through the military power of the soviet union, its main incarnation in the world of large. so far. but we part company with chambers when it came to the force, the only force capable of holding the spread of soviet power and in this correlative
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way, to help strangle the ideological court served by that power. i'm going to quote again what has been quoted several times. jameson's famous remark to his wife about his break with communism. i know that i am leaving the winning side for the losing side , but it is better to die on the losing side than to live under communism. now, i, for one, and most of my fellow neo conservatives agreed with the second half of that declaration, which amounted to a defined repudiation of what came to be an elegantly known as anti anti communism. it was identifying mark, the slogan better read than dead. but, we strongly rejected the idea that america represented the losing side in the struggle against soviet expansionism and the communist play that went with it. to the anti-communist passion we shared with chambers,
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inseparable from a commensurately powerful love for and faith in the united states of america and the civilization for which it had gone to war against the two great carriers of modern totalitarianism, first not see germany and now communist russia. and on like chambers, we believe that the united states would eventually turn back the communist threat to western civilization, just as surely as it had done to the equally evil threat posed by not to germany. not, mind you, that we underestimated the might of the soviet military or the strength and the resolve of the anti anti-communist forces. against as both at home and abroad. in fact, there were times when we came close to a feeling that chambers and other conservative anti-communist like james vernon who wrote a book entitled suicide of the last, we feared that they might be right. for me, one especially
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discouraging occasion was the fight against ronald reagan's decision in 1983 to station medium-range misfiles in europe to counter the soviet buildup of similar misfiles on its side of the dividing line between its domain and the west. massive protests were planned here at home and all over the world with the biggest one scheduled for the aid to which over a million people from every country in western europe was streaming by plane, bus, and on foot. the cover of the dutch broadcasters had erected a respite overlooking the square to which the protesters were all marching. they invited pundits from various european countries to sit there and comment on this great event. evidently, however, there were unable to find anyone in the whole of europe willing or able to support reagan's decision, which is why i received a panicky call at the last minute,
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inviting me to participate. so desperate were they test bicep their decision -- their discussion with an affirmative action fascist, role i often played in the days, that they even offered to fly me over on the monstrously expensive concord. and so came about that a few hours later i found myself arguing for nearly all day against four relentless opponents, five if you count the moderator who made candy crowley seem a model of impartiality. [laughter] all the while watching the biggest crowd i've ever seen or ever would see carrying anti-american signs and chanting anti-american slogans. no wonder then that i felt neither for the first bar for the last time as if we anti communists were all alone and up against the whole world, including that part of it we were dedicated to defending, and
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that we could not possibly prevail against odds like that. thanks be to get high was wrong. there were other occasions on which, with krater justification i felt just as gloomy about our struggle in the world of ideas. by the 1970's, the favorite tactic of the anti anti-communist was not to defend communism. that had been -- become too hard to do, even for actual communists, but to attack american. this country, they said, was oppressive and repressive at home as witnessed by the persistence of such evils as racism and poverty, and it was also a force for evil in international affairs, as witnessed against the war in vietnam and the opposition to any and every movement by the peoples of the third world to improve their lot. this particular species of anti-americanism began its long march through the institutions of american culture in the
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1960's as professor hill mentioned earlier. and with and an amazingly short time it had thoroughly infected to round up the usual suspects, the universities, the mainstream media, and the arts both low and high. but it also had the unanticipated consequence of a jolting some of us into a discovery or in some cases a rediscovery of the virtues that, as we now realize, made this country not nearly worth defending against its ideological enemies, but into something much more than that. i myself even went so far as to place america among the highest points of human civilization on par with periclean athens or the medicis or elizabethan england or the russia of tolstoy. unlike them, america did not belong on that list because of its achievements in the art.
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it belongs there because by remaining on whole loyal to the principles of firmed in the declaration of independence, it had developed into a country in which there was more liberty and more prosperity, more widely shared than in any other nation in the history of the world. if chambers had lived here he would probably have been shocked by that statement. he most certainly did not partake of the anti-americanism of the left, but there was also a bitter critique of america on the right in which he most certainly did partake. his critique goes all the way back to the earliest days of there public, and it focuses on what has been mentioned several times already, the alleged materialism of american life, the punitive crassness of this culture and it's supposedly philistines indifference or hostility to things of the spirit, all of which were seen to flow from but even togo
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called the exclusively commercial have a that he claimed were bred in the american bowl. this is pretty much how whitaker chambers felt. he became a communist because he had come to leave that the americans are shaped by its exclusively commercial habits, capitalism, in other words, had reached the end of its tether and that communism was the only alternative with the vision and the power to save whatever might be worth salvaging the out of the dying civilization. yet, when he finally discovered that the evils of communism were infinitely greater than those he attributed to capitalism, he did not thereby come to the conclusion that he had been wrong about america. america, under capitalism, remained calm in his ideas, a society dying of its own soulless this, which is why he could say that in breaking with communism he was leaving the
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winning side of the losing side, but why he could not say that he was leaving this side of evil for the side of good. this is also why would is surely among the greatest books ever written about communism is, i am afraid of little help as a guide to what conservatism can or should be without anti communism . for neither in witness nor in later years to chambers changes mind about the free market. indeed, he even preferred cal braces tonight leading -- leaving one of his colleagues and national review to complain that he talked as if the right must acquiesce to the socialist needs and hopes of the masses and the purpose of national review was to make the opposition case. it is a good thing then -- it's a good thing then that with the exception of a born again, tonight like pat buchanan and
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his fellow, conservatism without anti communism has not followed in the entire capitalist footsteps of chambers. it's a good thing that it has instead remained united by the truth, that economic freedom is an indispensable constituent element of freedom in general and must therefore be dissent -- defended against all commerce emphatically, not excluding the present administration. nevertheless, i would argue that this belief, while necessary, is not sufficient and that it needs to be extended to a proper appreciation of why and how the united states of america has become one of the highest points in the history of civilization. furthermore, contrary to what most liberals and even some conservatives contend, the united states has also been an exceptionally powerful force for good in the world at large. it is not for the united states,
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despised and patronized by intellectuals everywhere, but on the left and the right, many millions of people who are now living in freedom would still be suffering under the totalitarian horrors of nazism and communism. what i am trying to say is that if conservatism without anti communism is to become as vital again as it was with anti-communist and, it will have to open its eyes more fully to the greatness of america, and it will have to fight as passionate a war against anti-americanism weather on the left or the right as whitaker chambers once so nobly did against communism. thank you. [applause] >> thank you. before i start talking about the current state of the conservative movement, i want to tell one quick whitaker chambers
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story. i helped put together a dinner every halloween called the pumpkin papers irregulars in washington, which commemorates whitaker chambers and raises a lot of issues. some of you have been there, no. but you pick up all these little things about whitaker chambers, and there is one great story that i like to tell. when he had finished writing witness and he rode it out longhand, he wanted to have it published by the largest or one of the largest american publishers. as a fellow book publisher, he enjoyed the story. called and made a point. and they gave him his time. he came in and introduced in self to the woman sitting at the front desk and said that he was here. and so she called up to his office and she set, whitaker chambers is your. there was a pause. he said get the son of a bitch and a fair. and apparently surf had an
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intern who worked for him who have really never said anything before. he would help of his files and so on. he sort of stood up and said, mr. cirque, you're making a mistake. he said, whitaker chambers is an eminent man with a very powerful story to tell, and i suspect he has written a book that needs to be published, and you should see him. he did. of course random house did publish. we brought the paperback rights about ten years later. to start with, of course, when whitaker chambers was -- when he published witnessed there really was no concerted movement. there were a few people that spoke about anti communism, and there were a few people that spoke about free-market economics and a few people who spoke about traditional values, but there was not the movement and they really did not know which other. there was no support, of course, as there is now.
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when a witness was published it certainly caused a sensation, but it was not because it was a conservative versus a liberal bloc. it was a book that was a spy story for one thing as well as being a great piece of literature. it was, i think, an instant best-seller and stayed on the list for a long time. it was not because there was a conservative movement. the conservative movement evolved over the next, well, 20 or 30 years and perhaps still evolving. the national review was founded in 1955. of course that brought a lot of people together. interestingly, many of the people that were there were former communists, not only with her chambers and frank meyer, james burnham, a good many others who were relieving guiding lights there and to -- but then you have to understand that as the conservative movement grew, anti-communist and really was the colonel that kept together. it was the driving force.
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it was what actually recruited activist people. it is what organizations are starting around. there was a lecture circuit in the fifties the people that went around the country speaking and largely about communism. i recall, as i was growing up, my father published countless books. there was book after book about communism. many of them were deeply intellectual books about the theory of communism. a more practical books about what it was all about, but it was really a big deal. and we forget that in american foreign policy until the fall of the soviet union, the entire focus was basically the soviet union and communism and the things that emanated from it. the intelligence community, the counter intelligence community was all focused on communism. as the conservative movement grew into the 60's and 70's, continually communism was the focus. as i mentioned, the other strands, libertarians are economic conservatives, some of
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whom were actually read it -- rather critical of the anti-communist because they felt it meant that it just increase the size of government, but nevertheless, they were second stringers, if you will. contemporaries at chambers and russell kirk as well. richard weaver represented the other two strands of it. but until the 70's probably communism was the dominant thing. something i have wondered about is, when ronald reagan was elected, whether, as you look at the history of the conservative movement, anti-communist and became much less of a deal, and i wonder if with ronald reagan the people that were anti-communist felt that they now have this anti-communist and charged it was the commander-in-chief and felt comfortable enough letting him fight communism that they did not need to put the same amount of emphasis into it that they had an focus turned to other things. anyway, so let's turn for a few minutes to where the movement yesterday after anti communism.
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of course we have had 20-25 years since communism to figure out where the conservative movement goes, but there are certainly, i think, some things that are different but a great many things of the same. basically, the tenants of conservatism with the same as they were when they first -- when people first are talking about them. i struggled along with just what is it that conservatives believe. i know it's a question that we always are asked, and it is often difficult to come up with a coherent answer. the fourth things that i sort of call the pillars of conservatism, which i think all fit together and which probably define it as well as anything else on the following. liberty, which, of course, means the exercise of free will and the pursuit of virtue, the rule of law, and the protection of minorities, due process,
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predictability, the constitution the third would be tradition and order. the fourth, belief in god. we come back to the question we asked before. i think that if even you go back and you look at the greek and roman philosophers among the british philosophers, the constitution, you're going to find all of those four things in virtually every phrase that comes along. and they all fit together amazingly well. i have been reading the last couple of weeks, the new biography of thomas jefferson by john mecham, very interesting book. i notice that consistently in quoting jefferson, and he has a great many things in that i've never seen before, "discussions of jefferson, that you look at -- he is always talking about liberty, the rule of law, tradition in order and belief in god. i think that really defines probably as well as anything i can think of where the conservative movement comes from today.
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i want to talk to a little bit about the current war political part of the movement. i am certainly part of it, as many of you want. and we have, of course, come out of the campaign. the left, as they always do, say, well, that is the end of conservatism. remember the new york times announced that was not known in the end of conservatism, republicanism as well. we, as people say, have been here before and it does not make a great deal of difference. the movement goes along. certainly the conservative movement probably defined american politics as much as any other thing right now. by exit polls and by of the polls to my people define themselves as conservatives by about two to one. liberals, around 40-20 percent of the population, something like that. goes up and down depending on what's happening. i think it's probably safe to say that the country is still center right. the conservative movement is about as cohesive and together
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as it ever has been. i am part of a group that meets every week. the chairs in washington, made up of about 25 or 30 leaders of the conservative movement, presence of organizations, and it -- and it includes a libertarians. it includes the christian conservatives. includes the foreign-policy conservatives, neil conservatives commandery pretty much all along. i don't think there are very many things we disagree on. we discussed every issue that comes along every week, and we also have two meetings per year and bring in the heads of about 100 conservative organizations. we just had 12 or three weeks ago just after the election. i can say that they are as enthusiastic as ever. the movement continues to grow. there are always new young writers, along. there are all sorts of periodicals, of course. things that are talked vibrant for any movement like that that is going to stay alive.
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i think generally speaking given the ups and downs of politics, it is probably in as good a shape as it ever has been. i am the chairman of the intercollegiate studies institute. others of you on this from certain to participate. again, it is an organization of students that is growing, constantly doing a number of amazing things. a large list of profs associated with as any organization in the country outside the association of american university professors. it some more in the 15-20000 range of american professors, so there are all sorts of things going on. it will continue to go on. and to summarize and coming back to with your chambers, i think that it is probably safe to say that what chambers did, as was mentioned earlier in the conference was to introduce people to the fact that communism was a real threat and that it coalesced people.
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the fact that bill buckley and broad chambers, the national review was struck a genius. i commemorate the program here for it during the program on chambers as the second when you have done because i think again he was probably one of the most important people even for the short span of time that he was at national review for waste of four. let me stop there. >> thank you. [applause] >> building conservatism and american. a short answer and a long answer to the question that we were asked to address. a short answer to the question, what defines conservatism in america today, devotion to conserving the principles of limited government and american. not my -- now my lawyer answered.
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as for whitaker chambers, so too it seems to me for us, the defense of freedom to date the fans on reconciling freedom and tradition. as pointed out, chambers did not manage to do that in witness, for all of his career accomplishments. the reconciliation of freedom and tradition depends upon a virtue called political moderation. the problems today is that the virtue of political moderation is now out of favor. has distinguished roots in american constitutionalism and in modern conservatism. recovering and cultivating political moderation is essential to the renewal of a constitutional conservatism, one that is devoted to liberty in self-government and is a kind of conservatism around which of social conservatives and libertarians can rally. i quote now, it is a misfortune
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inseparable from human affairs that public measures are really investigating with that spirit of moderation which is essential to adjust estimate of the real tendency to events or construct the public good. so observed james madison and federalist number 37. the challenge madison went on to explain his more sobering still because the spirit of moderation is more apt to be diminished then promoted by those occasions which require an unusual exercise of it. in a similar spirit and in the years that america was declaring independence and launching our great experiment in constitutional self-government, edmund burke sought to conserve the conditions under which liberty flourished. to this anti exposed to the errors of depending on abstract theory for guidance and practical affairs. he talked of primacy and
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political like of prudence, a judgment born of experience pound above circumstances in britain action. he maintains a good policy and laws must be fitted to the people's moral sentiment an opinion. he demonstrated that the politics, imperfections of human nature must be taken into account and virtue must be respected. he showed the political moderation frequently reject the path of least resistance and political moderation is sometimes exercised in defending principles staunchly against majority opinion. madison's word an example is pertinent and our time as they weren't around. today's conservatives should he then, come to grips with too entrenched realities, post genuine challenge to liberty and his prudent management is critical to the nation's well-being. the first interest reality, forgive me for saying, is that
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the era of big government is here to stay. this is particularly important for libertarians to a sort. the last 200 your society in the economy and enhanced to have advanced industrial nations have undergone traumatic changes in the new deal settlement has been reshaping americans expectations about the nation states reach general. consequently the u.s. federal government will continue to provide a social safety net, regulate the economy, and shoulder a substantial share responsibility for safeguarding the social and economic political equality. all signs are, a significant majority of americans we will want to continue to do some. in these circumstances conservatives must redouble their efforts to reform sloppy and incompetent government and to resist governments and parent expansionist tendencies and progressivisms reflexive
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radically -- radical and -- radical proclivities. the attempt to dismantle or even substantially rollback the welfare and regulatory state reflected the distinctly and conservative refusal to grant political goals and political realities. conservatives can and should focus on restraining spending, reducing regulation, reforming the task and generally raining in hours calling for government. conservatives should retire misleading talk of small government. instead, they should think and speak in terms of limited government. the second intrench reality, this one testing social conservatives, is the sexual revolution. perhaps the greatest social revolution in human history. the invention of popularization of the mid-1960s and the birth control pill, a cheap convenient and effective way to prevent pregnancy was momentous. it meant for the first time in human history women could
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reliably control reproduction. this greatly enhance their ability to enter the workforce and pursue careers. it also transformed romance car reshape the structure of the family, and refashioned marriage. it is still doing so. brides may still weighed in virginal white. couples may still promised to love and cherish for better and for worse until death to them part. children or child may still lie in the future for most married couples. nevertheless, 90 percent of americans engage in premarital sex, cohabitation before marriage is common, out of wedlock births are substantial. divorce while emotionally searing is no longer unusual, legally difficult to more social stigmatizing. children, once the core reason for getting married, had become optional. civil unions for gay and lesbians have acquired majority support. same-sex marriages not far
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behind. these profoundly transformed circumstances did not alter the fundamental convictions. social conservatives should continue to make the case for the traditional understanding a marriage with children at the center, both for its intrinsic cumin rewards and for the benefit of married father and mother bringing to rear children . conservatives should back family friendly public policy and seek with in the democratic process to persuade fellow citizens to adopt socially conservative views and vote for candidates devoted to them. but given the enormous changes of the past 50 years in the united states and the way individuals understand and experience romance and marriage and family and with a view to the enduring imperatives of limited government, social conservatives should refrain from using the federal government to enforce the traditional understanding of sex, marriage and family. social conservatives can remain true to their principles about
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sex and marriage and family even if they adjust there expectations of what can be achieved for democratic politics they can remain true to their principles if they renew their appreciation of the limit the of american constitutional government imposing on regulating fellow citizens conduct of the private lives. some conservatives worry that giving any ground, sometimes in regard to the welfare and regulatory state, sometimes in regard to the sexual revolution, sometimes in regard to both is tantamount to to sanctifying a progressive status quo. that is the mistake a danger for destiny. seeing circumstances as they are, the precondition for preserving principles and effectively translating them into viable reform. even under the shadow of big government and in the wake of the sexual revolution from above libertarians and social conservatives can preserve the
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most deeply held beliefs. they can affirm together the dignity of the person, the inseparable -- and supper ability of human dignity from individual freedom and self-government, the dependence of individual freedom and self-government on a thriving society and the paramount have the constitution on maintaining a political framework that secures liberty by limiting government. confusion persists in many quarters about what a return to the constitution and tells. some hard-driving conservatives think such an undertaking is an opportunity to restore simplicity and purity to american politics. influence of progressive politicians and pundits have tried to portray return to the constitution as a reactionary grasping after an acid bath. both opinions are not with the bouncing and blending of the are of the constitution. at least the constitutional conservatism takes its bearing
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by burke the federalist and the high points of post-world war two american conservatism. what is a constitutional conservatism? very briefly, constitutional conservatism or constitutional wealth well understood puts liberty first and teaches the political moderation is indispensable in securing and preserving and extending liver is blessing. the american constitution it seeks to conserve presupposes natural freedom and equality. the constitution trust legitimacy both from democratic consent and from the protection of individual rights. the constitution limits in the emirate's government power while providing government incentives and tools to discharge responsibilities effectively. it reflects and refines popular will to a complex scheme of representation. it provides checks and balances
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by dispersing and lending power among three distinct branches of the federal government as well as among between the federal and state governments. it assumes the constitution does the primacy of self-interest, but also the capacity of and necessity for citizens to rise above it through the exercise of virtue. the constitution welcomes the diverse array of voluntary associations as an expression of liberty to prevent anyone from dominating and because they serve as schools for the virtues of freedom. the constitution recognizes a special role as the families and religious faith in cultivating these virtues. constitutional conservatism well understood does not mandate particular policies or command specific laws, but it does bring into focus the overarching aims and larger considerations that in a free society should inform policy and under law. to be sure, honoring the
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imperatives of constitutional conservatism will require both social conservatives and libertarians to bite their fair share of bullets as they translate principles into law and policy. conservatives we will work for a position of strength as they, a balance and calibrate and on behalf of the individual freedom of which the high political hopes depend. strength derives from the lessons of moderation and scribing constitutional conservatism well understood. that's all. [applause] >> thank you. thank you very much. we are running little late. i do want to get some questions on the floor. i found all of the talks very interesting. peter is the most provocative. i hope some might think of
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quoting bill buckley comment from that first issue of national review, yelling stop which i think sounds somewhat different. in fact, have very different now from yours. i -- the economist herbert stein once said that that which cannot go on forever won't. i just wonder whether this welfare behemoths that you describe that we should make our peas with can go on forever and whether conservatives can make their peace with it. i understand the qualifications you have had, but i'm going to stop and i want to turn the microphone over. >> is there something that we can draw from whitaker chambers, also from bill buckley,
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particularly with what peter has just said which is a brilliant presentation. i hope you will be able to get copies of it and think about and talk about it and debated for some time to come. .. the challenge, had it is a paraphrase i was trying to get the right words. the challenge said challenge is how much to give attain a
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political policy or role and how much not to give up to preserve an essential principle. that's that constant debate which you are always going about. well, i think that is right. it's a constant challenge every day to figure it out. the response to roger, yes, for sure. conservative in the bill buckley spirit stop. but when history doesn't 0 buy, that has to be taken in to aciewnt, and in many respects, history has refused to obey and my exhortation is not that there is not an absolutely independenceble role for conservatives for who continue
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to say to history to stop, but there's also a role in recognizing it hasn't and taking those developments in to account. >> slowing it down a little bit. >> slowing it down is actually what i was advocating. in other words, the aggressive principled reform as far as you can go we -- but in practical terms a dream of sometimes you hear the language, a dream of small government is a "fantasy." that doesn't present us to returning what is best about the founding. the prince l pans pals -- if you recall, the constitution was on the side of large government. it was the antifederalist who said you're greating a huge one that will swallow everything
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up. they wanted a more powerful government. what did they agree on? it had to be limited agrease i havely -- aggressively out of principle to protect liberty. i couldn't be more in favor. aggressively limited government in accordance with the founding principles. i want -- what i want to avoid is getting lost in a debate over small government, in my opinion that leads nowhere valuable. >> we can ask how much worse it would be if we weren't doing what we were doing. >> yes. >> time for a couple of more questions. walk up to the microphone. >> hello. much of the power written is in the ability of whittaker's time give us a bright line between
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treason and loyalty to one's country, and between materialism and ideal i. or faith. if part of the discussion is what enduring lessons we can get from this, one looks now for the bright line can be drawn today. we seem to have a dimmer line between the vicar forms of -- various forms of political radicalism that president obama and the argument failed in the last election that those things remit a legacy that the american should reject. norman has has given some dwhrad american greatness can been -- [inaudible] some support principles of the american constitutional order,
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and you called for a principle of mode ration -- moderation. do any of those add up to another great line the kind that whittaker chambers was able to draw for us and see american conservativism? >> well, i think you pose a very, very difficult problem. the bright line that chambers drew did not hold all that firmly even then. there were violent arguments about what substituted patriotism, local -- loyalty, nobody argued that espionage was a good thing, but the accusation was always made that all of this stuff was an attempt to
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discredit liberalism and the new deal, and we now have, in our on time, we have heard it said not since obama was in office, but that disdense is the highest form of patriotism. i don't buy that. [laughter] i don't buy it at automatic. and of course, the democrats no longer say that. [laughter] there, you know, where i would draw -- i hardly dare tell you where i would draw the right line. because i -- federal marshalls will materialize out of the walls and lock me up immediately. well, i was delicately suggest that even whittaker chambers who was a great man and is a great book, even whittaker chambers
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fell in to what i consider the misguided view of america that is prevalent, not so pref electability, it always existed on the right. i would draw a bright line between understanding the precious value and virtue of the society and even by the way now. and [inaudible] which he did quite consistently. john said that he saw a lot of common between chambers and cannon. oddly enough, i have been rereading this for a third time, i think, and i said chambers has a lot in common with george. when i said this to the president, he said of course, they were deeply patriotic. i said, no they weren't. i don't think they were traitors
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or anything. neither one of them had a real appreciation for the greatness and value and virtue of the country, and they had a lot in common in a sense they both wanted a farm and hated cities and thought there was something wrong with success and material comfort, you were very virtuous if you had old clothes rather than new clothes. exactly what chambers believed. he was -- [inaudible] for this. told him he should dress better. i draw a line between people who are genuinely pro-american, and those who aren't. and that gets me in to a lot of trouble, and as i said, i hardly dare develop idea even in this country. [laughter] >> we have time for, i think,
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one more question. there is one more question? yes, sir. [inaudible] >> thank the panelists first, because the breaking of a vow allows me to break my vow never to use one of the forums to make statement. i couldn't resist. i think the more or less government argument is a dead end for conservatives. and the reason is that it plays to the liberal frame. without addressing a fundamental factors that drive public demand for government services which are connected to the complexity of society, and rapid technological change. rulemaking as eleanor has demonstrated in her work, is an effort to stablize expectations about the future, and the way out is to think about governance, because governance is about the things that government does that helps people stablize their
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expectations about the future and manage the risks that come from living in uncertain times. and avoidance of this concept called the government, the government does this, the government does that. that is the ray fied state which is the human being resistic statement about the absence of god of society without god. the government becomes the idol. and so what i would suggest for the conservative who really want to restore this notion of the original principle that limited government is to focus on teaching the science association , and that teaching the science of association will give people access to the technology of rulemaking. that allows governance to be conducted in the little platoons that make up society. i would welcome any thoughts or comments the panelists have.
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and i wouldn't thank the professor -- i would thank the professor for raising that issue. >> give us a shot. of course, i agree with the last part of your remarks, which is that with should do what is in our power to encourage the platoons, the siphons association, because these are the real schools of virtue, family, religious community, political associations of all sorts. but i can't agree with your advice that we stop think abouted limited government. i think it's extremely important that we be mindful. in fact i think the two ideas are connected. it's important we be mindful of the tasks that government, one, is permitted to do under the constitution. it's partly a legal question and
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a practical question. we have to think about the tasks that government is competent at doing. an third, i'm making toke villain points. third, we have to think about those tasks that government could do, but would we be better off could legally do might do fairly well. we would better off if we did them for ourself. so my medium length answer, a summary of my medium length answer is that we need to think very carefully about both the principles of limited government, and about the science of association. >> everything you sei is true. but the fact of the matter is, we are entbaijed in a -- engaged in a great political war, political ideological war which is not alw